You’re reading this likely because you want to learn something, or are learning something new right now. I respect that a lot, many people, after leaving a formal education institution, just kind of stop learning.
It’s not that they don’t have a genuine interest in new ideas or things, it’s just they don’t make an effort to learn more about them or take up a new skill/language. Learning something new, especially as you get older, is very difficult. It’s even more difficult when there’s more on the line, such as when you’re trying to learn how to run your own business or get customers for the first time.
But, for those that do take it upon themselves to continue to learn, the type of learning most people do is very passive.
I personally believe this is the worst way to learn anything, for a few reasons:
- It’s passive: you’re not actively engaged in what you’re learning, thus you’re less likely to retain it.
- It’s easy: We gravitate towards things that are easier, thus we fill our time with easy things, thus it leaves less time and energy for action. Time and energy are finite resources.
- It feels good: it makes you “feel productive” without actually doing much. Instead of actually working on that new project or going to the gym for example, you read a book about working out. It feels just as productive, without it actually being productive.
So what’s the alternative?
Learning by doing.
Sometimes this is a workshop, sometimes this is using a simulator (if you’re trying to learn the stock market), sometimes this is speaking a new language to a native speaker, sometimes this is simply throwing yourself to the wolves and figuring it out without immersing yourself in a ton of information first.
Do you know when I retain the most information about anything I’m trying to learn? When I figure it out myself.
Usually, to figure something out myself, I need to be doing it.
I learned more about Facebook advertising by running my ecommerce business for 1 year than I have reading books, taking courses, and listening to podcasts for several years.
This is because a lot of things are contextual.
What you’re trying to learn by reading or sitting in a classroom can be very broad or even abstract.
When you get down to doing the new thing you’re trying to learn yourself, there are nuances and things you begin to pickup that you would never get from a book.
For some things, like learning to swim or learning to play guitar, you will probably always learn by doing.
For other things that have so much theory and discussion floated around about them, it’s easy to get caught up in passive learning.
These are things such as starting a business, working out, or even learning a new language.
Back to the Facebook ads point, if you stumbled across a course that was asking you to pay $1,000 to learn Facebook ads, I would much rather you spend that $1,000 on your own Facebook ads, learn and possibly fail, than learn passively by giving $1k to a random guru.
If money holds you back from doing, consider it the cost of your tuition. Whatever it will cost you to “do”, act as if that’s your tuition.
Don’t create any expectations of success, only create the expectation to learn. When you go into something, such as a new business venture, so focused on the outcome, it hurts your progress and capability to learn as you go.
I also feel like part of it is trying to be as prepared and well-equipped as possible, before making the plunge. But I honestly believe this is a great way to procrastinate instead of taking action. Instead, when learning, we should focus on less consumption of information and more implementation.
Information and consuming information still has its place in learning.
Don’t get me wrong, whenever I get stumped, plateau, or have down time, consuming information is extremely valuable. Much better than turning on Netflix or finding some other way to not use my time better.
However, what we consume and how we consume it is important too. This is why I really like Blinkist, which summarizes the best business books out there for me, and gives me easily digestible book summaries that I can consume everyday by reading them or listening to them. This way, I spend less time consuming information, only get the best nuggets (Blinkist takes out the filler) and I can get back to working on my business.